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When you are self-employed, your income is dependent on keeping your clients and customers satisfied. Unhappy customers will either stop doing business with you while complaining about you to everyone else, or they will make a complaint directly to you.

Those who sever the business relationship don’t offer you the opportunity to correct the situation. However, the ones who complain but remain clients are giving you a golden opportunity. You get the chance to correct the situation, learn from it, and keep their business.

Rather than looking at a complaining client as a nuisance, use it to your advantage instead. Take the information they give you and turn an unhappy client into a happy one instead.

1. Let Them Talk

Try to keep your own emotions out of it while letting them tell you what the problem is. Listen to what they have to say with an open mind and a closed mouth. If they are angry, let them vent.

Whatever you do, don’t interrupt them, begin back-peddling, or making excuses. These types of responses will not gain you respect from your client. Instead, make it easy for them to tell you what the problem is.

If they are complaining face to face or through video conferencing, make eye contact, lean toward them, and uncross your arms. Your body language needs to show that you are interested in listening and resolving whatever the issue may be.

2. Thank Them

Yes, you should thank them for the chance to make things right. They need to know that it is ok to complain about something they feel is not right.

In fact, you should make complaining an easy process whether it is by phone, email, text, in person, or through some other means of communication.

3. Offer Solutions

Once you understand what the problem is you will be able to look for ways to solve it. If you make a suggestion to the client that does satisfy them, try another.

Another approach is to ask them what they would like or expect. Even if you are unable to deliver on what they ask for at least you have a starting point. Then, hopefully, by working together a compromise can be reached.

4. Follow Through

If resolving the problem requires action on your part, make sure you follow through in a timely manner. Clients will quickly lose respect for you and your business if you fail to take the actions you have promised.

5. Set Up Regular Meetings

When your unhappy client has a long term business relationship with you, it may be a good idea to set up a follow-up meeting. This gives each of you an opportunity to touch base and ensure everything is still proceeding smoothly.

Since you want your client to be satisfied with the work you are doing for them, regular meetings are another good idea. Depending on the volume of work you might wish to meet weekly or monthly to discuss any issues or concerns. This is a pro-active way of approaching your business relationship that can prevent future problems from occurring.

6. Make Yourself Available

You don’t need to be available 24-7 for your clients or keep unreasonable hours. However, they do need to be able to reach you when the need arises. Make sure they have more than one way to contact you and know your routine business hours.

It’s important to keep your clients happy when you are self-employed. After all, your income depends on them. Use these tips to turn an unhappy client into a happy one and keep your business relationship going strong.